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[Image above] Acme Brick (Castle Rock, Colo.) employees are hard at work on the dehacking line. Credit: ACerS

The “mud season,” as Denver locals refer to the May rains, did not discourage the ~50 attendees at the 2015 ACerS Structural Clay Products Division Meeting, which was held in conjunction with the National Brick Research Center (NBRC) Meeting, May 4–6.

On day one of the three-day meeting, held at the Denver Marriott West hotel in Golden, Colo., attendees took in informative and wide-ranging technical sessions, followed by a networking welcome reception sponsored by industry suppliers (see list at the end of the article).

Technical sessions:

  • Hybrid microwave firing – Garth Tayler, Acme Brick Co.
  • MACT update – Garth Tayler, Acme Brick Co.
  • Evaluation of kaolins for ceramic proppant formulations – Nate Huygens and John Sanders, Clemson University
  • Development of permeable clay paver formulations – Stephen Smith and John Sanders, Clemson University
  • Driving in the fast lane—Navigating with the mini-panel for new product development – Dennis Flannigan, Prince Minerals Inc.
  • Looking for the deep blue in Australia – Christophe Aubertot, Direxa Engineering LLC
  • GHS hazcom—Are your facilities ready? – Mike Rixner, Brampton Brick Inc.
  • How a variable frequency drive can make an extruder work more efficiently – Tom Moorehead, J.C. Steele & Sons Inc.

On day two, attendees had the privilege of touring two impressive brick plants—Acme Brick at Castle Rock and General Shale Denver plant. At Acme, attendees were greeted by Lynn Burchfield, plant manager of Acme who provided an overview of the plant before the tour.

The Table Rock plant has been producing face brick since 2001, when it purchased the Denver Brick Company—which itself opened for business in the late 1800s. The current plant, built in 1982, features a side-fired Ceric tunnel kiln fueled by natural gas, as well as a monorail brick packaging system. Its annual production capacity is 60 million brick equivalents.

In recent years, Acme introduced economical King Size brick to the Denver residential building market. Its most recent innovation is half-inch thinBRIK, manufactured in modular and King Size face dimensions. Other units produced at the plant include modular, queen, and utility size brick, as well as light-duty garden pavers—all in a pleasing variety of natural earth colors and unique textures.

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Acme Brick plant supervisor Chris Oberley explains their Rumbled Brick process during a break from the rain. Credit: ACerS

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Bill Daidone, ACerS SCPD chair, presents a certificate of appreciation to Acme Brick plant manager Lynn Burchfield. Credit: ACerS

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Attendees take in Acme’s extrusion process. Credit: ACerS

Plant tour number two was the General Shale plant in Denver, which generously provided attendees with lunch. Tony Fabrizio, regional production manager, greeted attendees and provided an overview of the plant, which is located on 51 acres and was constructed in 1962. The plant was the first brick manufacturing location in North America to utilize robotic setting equipment, which was installed in 1997 and produces a variety of products for residential and commercial markets, featuring FBX quality brick as well as rumbled brick. This location also employs a state-of-the-art sawing process for thin brick as well as thin rock products.

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A General Shale employee oversees the auto-setting operation. Credit: ACerS

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Attendees listen as Troy Knox, plant supervisor, explains General Shale’s tunnel kilns and firing process. Credit: ACerS

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General Shale’s Thin Brick product line has been gaining in popularity. Credit: ACerS

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Daidone presents General Shale’s regional production manager Tony Fabrizio a certificate of appreciation for hosting the plant tour and providing lunch to attendees. Credit: ACerS

Day two ended with a Suppliers Mixer back at the hotel. The final day concluded with the NBRC members’ business meeting and technical session.


2015 Welcome Reception & Suppliers Mixer sponsors:

Basic Machinery Co. Inc.

Danser Inc.

Direxa Engineering LLC

Halbert Mill Co.

Harrop Industries Inc.

Hellmich GmbH & Co. KG

J.C. Steele & Sons Inc.


LignoTech USA Inc.


Prince Minerals

Resco Products Inc.

Reymond Products International Inc.

Signode Packaging Sytems

STAR Engineering Inc.

Southern Color N.A. Inc.

Swindell Dressler International Co.

Structural Clay Division Officers

Chair: Bill Daidone, Acme Brick Technical Center

Chair-elect: John Hewitt, Interstate Brick Co.

Secretary: John Dowdle, Prince Minerals Inc.